Just down the street from my home, there stands a large monument dedicated to religious freedom. The words engraved upon its plaque read as follows;
“Be it enacted by the General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or beliefs, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capabilities.”
I’ve always liked this statue, because it reminds me how fortunate I am to live in a country where my Christian faith is respected. Every Sunday I get up and go to church without fearing for my life or safety. The local bookstore has entire shelves dedicated to Bibles and Christian theology. Our political leaders frequently espouse their belief in God, and I can even blast Christian music when I’m driving through town (what can I say, I love me some Hillsong). To be perfectly honest, I can hardly imagine a world where these things aren’t considered normal.
Regretfully, in countless areas of the world these things are far from normal. According to Ethan Renoe, a graduate from Moody Bible Institute, many Americans have lost perspective on the notion of Christian persecution. We complain loudly about gay marriage or the lack of representation in public schools, but for the most part these instances do not mark a clear and present danger for us. At worst, we end up getting into fights with strangers over social media. This hardly compares to the struggles of Christians in areas like the Middle East or North Korea.
Writing for Relevant Magazine, Renoe States,
“To put things back into perspective, it’s important for us to look to both history and global events and continue to tell the stories of our brothers and sisters who actually are facing daily persecution and even intentionally putting their lives in danger for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Today there are thousands of Christians facing persecution by their own government and other religious extremist groups around the world. As American Christians, it is important for us to not become so wrapped up in our own country’s issues that we lose sight of the global Body of Christ facing real danger.”
Renoe furthers his piece with a few ways American Christians can help their persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. You can find his advice below, along with some further insights of my own.
“Pray for the global church, and specifically for those on the front lines of countries such as North Korea, India, China, and dozens more where thousands of Christians are breaking the law simply by clinging to the name of Jesus. Pray that Jesus would deliver them from harm as well as constantly remind them of His presence with them. That the Holy Spirit would comfort them in their brief moment of trial and they would remember the promise of eternity with Christ.”
It’s very easy to get caught up in fear and suspicion. Instead of mulling over conspiracy theories or sensational headlines, make an effort to do some scholarly research. Read up on countries where Christians are a minority and find out what obstacles they face. Listen to personal testimonies from native individuals, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Finally, educate yourself on American civil rights so as to better understand current events.
“Set aside some of the money you spend on first-world comforts such as tasty treats, expensive clothes and entertainment in order to send aid to the mission of the gospel around the world. Support missionaries who are taking the gospel to places where it has never been heard before, where their very lives may be at risk.”
FIND YOUR GRATITUDE
In all the political turmoil, it’s easy to overlook our many blessings. So next time you attend church, or chat with other believers over morning coffee, take a moment and thank God for the spiritual and personal freedom you enjoy. Shift your focus to those who desperately need the help of Christ’s disciples, and never forget those who daily give their lives to follow Christ.
As Americans, we’re blessed to live in a country where we can openly follow our beliefs, but this freedom also comes with a responsibility. There are many around the world who have lost home, friends, and much more to follow Christ. These men and women are part of our Christian family, and we cannot abandon them. God is calling us to be his hands and feet, so let us hurry forward and reach out to those in need.
*Ryan Duncan is an Editor for Crosswalk.com